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January 20, 2014

New student information system chosen

For the first time in nearly a decade, the district will move to a new student information system. Hamilton School Board members approved the recommendation from the district’s Information Technology (IT) Department to move from STI to Infinite Campus to maintain student demographic data and handle other functions.

IT Manager Ryan McMillan presented background and rationale for the recommendation. Because STI no longer provided software updates and did not always meet the needs of the district, Hamilton patiently waited for a decision from state officials on establishment of a statewide student information system. When Infinite Campus, an out-of-state company, was chosen as the vendor in the state bidding process, the Wisconsin company Skyward protested the decision. In its biennial budget, state lawmakers allowed school districts to use vendors of their choice rather than establishing a consistent system throughout the state.

A committee of staff members from throughout the district and representing various employee groups identified criteria for selection and viewed in-depth demonstration of Skyward and Infinite Campus. The committee recommended Infinite Campus.

Rather than having separate systems to handle various functions, Infinite Campus will combine them seamlessly making data more accessible and user friendly. Functions that will be brought under one technological umbrella include assessment, attendance, curriculum and instruction, fees and online payments, food service, gradebook, guidance, health, learning management system, online registration, parent-student portal and mobile device apps, report cards, Response to Intervention, scheduling, state and federal reporting and summer school.

First year costs for Infinite Campus are less than Skyward, but subsequent annual fees vary between the companies. Infinite Campus will be $91,933 in 2014-15 and approximately $55,000 per year thereafter. Skyward’s first year costs would have been $111,327 and annual fees of $38,000 the second year with $5,000 increases in years 3-5. McMillan noted that Infinite Campus has been known for not raising its annual fees. The district spends approximately $55,000 per year for a variety of disjointed systems to provide the services and functions that Infinite Campus will handle.

Personnel matters

In personnel business, the School Board:

  • granted the retirement requests of Hamilton mathematics teacher Carol Frey, Templeton eighth grade teacher Barbara Furrer and Lannon technology integration resource teacher Elizabeth Flehmer;
  • accepted resignations from Woodside kitchen employee Jennifer Southern, Woodside second grade teacher Julie Schmidt, Marcy paraprofessional Annette Kremer and Hamilton paraprofessional and student supervisor Debbie Curtis;
  • appointed Niki Gaumnitz-Byrne as a Templeton sixth grade replacement teacher, Pauline Bruss as a Woodside kitchen employee, Sarah Pichler as a Templeton special service paraprofessional and Debbie Curtis as a Lannon custodian; and
  • approved a calendar for the 2014-15 school year which is similar to calendars of the past including student start date of Sept. 2, student end date of June 10, winter break from Dec. 24 – Jan. 2, spring break from April 3-10, five in-service days, four early release days and three work days for professional development. An in-service day normally held in October was moved to late August to better prepare staff for the Educational Effectiveness and new Students Information System initiatives.

Woodside, Hamilton site plans approved

Woodside and the other three elementary schools met earlier in the school year to collaborate around a common district literacy goal which states “Using 2013 MAP scores, each elementary school will increase the percentage of students who meet or exceed their projected growth targets by 5 percent.”

Woodside’s plan identifies two objectives – one in reading and one in mathematics, according to Principal James Edmond and Associate Principal Linda Hake. To meet those objectives, school action steps indicate that staff will:

  • focus collaborative team meeting on instructional planning and student data analysis;
  • closely monitor and revise team goals based on the district and school objectives;
  • provide in-classroom support for teachers and modeling of best practices by reading and mathematics specialists;
  • emphasize consistent delivery of instruction and intervention in reading and mathematics across grade levels; and
  • infuse complex literacy and mathematics vocabulary use in regular and specialist classrooms based on student data.

Hamilton High School has one goal that indicates “Students will increase engagement across the disciplines to reach higher levels of achievement, develop readiness to compete in a global society and be prepared for college and career.”  Tactics that will measure progress state that students will:

  • strengthen their autonomy, critical thinking and inquiry skills necessary for postsecondary pursuits; and
  • strengthen their learning by using disciplinary literacy strategies to comprehend, analyze and evaluate text.

Principal Candis Mongan noted that data reflect growth and accomplishments including the school’s highest PLAN composite score in three years, second highest ACT score in its history, Challenge Index score of 1.22 based on Advanced Placement results, and attainment of “significantly exceeds expectations” rating in the new State School Report Card with rankings of first in science, language arts and mathematics, second in social studies and third in reading among Waukesha County school districts.